Do you need to have this level of detail mapped out for your own style in order to live a happy life? Definitely not! But for anyone interested, here’s my breakdown of my current style preferences.
What I’ve Been Wearing
See items I’ve worn recently including brands and wear counts at the following links (I would embed these directly on this page, but I’m on a WordPress plan that doesn’t support plugins). These are views into my Airtable base that I use to keep track of my wardrobe.
I haven’t put in photos for all my items yet, so some of the tiles may be blank. Loungewear and activewear items are filtered out in these views. If you’re interested in seeing how the whole base is set up, head on over to Wardrobe Tracking. For item counts (my closet has a pretty high churn), see my monthly “wardrobe round-up” blog posts.
I post an outfit photo every day on Instagram, and I usually include some thoughts on fit, proportion, and styling details.
Low-fuss looks with vintage-inspired silhouettes, fall colors, and witchy details is how I’d describe my ideal style, which I adhere to by varying degrees on a day-to-day basis. My inspiration board for my current style can be found on Pinterest.
For resources to help curate your own wardrobe, see the Style Resources page. This is the second ‘style phase’ I’ve been in since I started focusing on clothes around 2016. Previously I was into minimal witchy looks and wore a lot of black and gray knitwear and loose silhouettes.
I’m very into earth tones and colors that remind me of autumn leaves. I primarily have items in burnt orange, olive and spruce greens, rust, tan, cream, and black.
I have the odd item outside these colors, but I find that generally keeping to a limited palette makes it a lot easier to make visually cohesive outfits.
Of course I have pieces that don’t fit into these categories, but these are items that I feel are important to the overall aesthetic of my wardrobe. I’ve definitely been more drawn to bottom items as the focus of outfits.
- Knit tops (especially sweaters with chunky/textured knits)
- A-line midi skirts
- High-waisted trousers (specifically the “peg pants” style)
- Culottes / wide-leg pants
- Ankle boots with 5″-6″ shafts
- Hats (Specifically vintage-y hats like wool panama hats or berets. Admittedly I don’t wear these super often because they don’t mesh with my commute very well.)
- Witchy jewelry (pieces with a bohemian aesthetic featuring botanical, celestial, eyeball, hand, snake, owl, etc motifs)
Getting round wire-frame retro style glasses (mine are the Warby Parker low nose bridge women’s “Milton” frames, which sadly have been discontinued) and bangs has also made a big impact on my look. The thin, light colored frames open up my face and the round shape goes well with the straighter line introduced by the bangs. I think both work towards the “vaguely vintage” component of the aesthetic I strive for.
In order to keep to a “vaguely vintage” aesthetic, I try to stick to items that don’t have any elements that are stereotypically modern (21st century) or futuristic, such as sneakers or technical fabrics. I do keep to most current macro trends e.g. pants rise, general skirt shapes, boot shape, but within that I generally prefer details with a more vintage feel, like buttons vs zippers, sweaters vs sweatshirts. (I do obviously have a puffer jacket, appropriate hiking gear, workout gear, etc, but this is a guiding principal for my fashion-y outfit wardrobe.)
Generally, I aim to look polished but not formal. Most of my outfit items fall somewhere in the smart casual spectrum, but I love accessories and totally don’t mind wearing earrings, a watch/bracelet, multiple rings, a necklace, a belt, fancy socks, and a hat, and a scarf in a single outfit (though tbh this particular convergence of peak accessorizing rarely happens). Some styling choices I usually go with are:
- Earrings + rings every day.
- Minimal makeup, hair, and nails – this is mostly because I’m not currently interested in dedicating myself to any more maintenance here. I think a bright lip, updo, or waves would look great with a lot of my outfits. I am trying this year to wear a red lip and paint my nails more frequently because I always enjoy when I manage to get them in, but this is a secondary concern to my clothes.
- Skewing towards bottom-heavy silhouettes.
- Working on including at least one item with visual interest (e.g. knitwear with visible texture, an item with a statement silhouette, necklaces) in each outfit and avoid wearing head-to-toe items that could also work for pajamas or gym wear. Not that there’s anything wrong with athleisure, but personally I feel happier and more inclined to do things if I have outfits that are a bit dressier.
- Aiming not to look frumpy, though I don’t always aim to wear the most conventionally flattering combination of items every time I get dressed. I love a high-waisted A-line skirt with a fitted and tucked in top and heels, but I also enjoy a thoughtful loose-loose silhouette or an outfit that just looks like you could do things comfortably in it.
Making sure everything fits is a key part of the “polished” part of the “polished casual” I’m aiming for. I’m 5’1″, so that means
- browsing petites sections (ASOS, an online-only EU-based fast fashion retailer, has a huuuuge petites section, and Nordstrom’s selection is respectable. Both have free shipping and returns.)
- getting pants hemmed and coat sleeves taken up or
- buying items that look good with sleeves or pant legs cuffed, and
- looking for cropped items that will turn out as normal length on me.
I will note on my Instagram posts when items have been tailored. I could definitely get a lot more small tailoring things done, especially getting waists of pants taken in, but at this point I don’t care enough about the remaining items to muster the activation energy required to go to the local tailor on the one hour a week I am available to drop in when they’re open.
Inspiration / Aspiration
Some of my favorite accounts for direct fashion inspiration on Instagram are @closetvomitfashion and @jerianie. I love the vintage but very modern styling (she’s based in NYC) that Ashley of Closet Vomit does. Jerianie also has a wonderful color palette and vintage-y aesthetic and inspiring forest backgrounds (she’s based in Finland).
I also enjoy following historical fashion and fashion museum accounts (like the Museum at FIT, the Met Costume Institute, or the Bata Shoe Museum) as well as some more fantasy/costume themed ones like @catinawitchhat, and the odd designer (@irisvanherpen and @alexandermcqueen are favorites), although the inspiration there is less “steal the closet” and more for visual enrichment and inspiration to add more detail, texture, color, etc. The only big Instagram influencer I’ve been into is @colormecourtney. Her posts are just so much fun to see, even if I don’t take direct inspiration from them.
For a list of non-career-instagrammer outfit diary accounts in the same vein as mine that I enjoy reading for styling process food-for-thought, see the Style Resources page.
View this post on Instagram
This is my “I can’t feel my face” face — it’s been a mad cold week here and I’m torn between excited and terrified! Excited because yay autumn! 🍁 And terrified because nayyy after autumn comes winter 😩 Is it still warm where you live? 🍂 #finland #autumn #autumncolors #fallcolors #quietinthewild #aseasonalshift #naturelovers #liveauthentic #vintageinspired #autumnfashion #秋 #秋コーデ #自然 #紅葉 #森林浴 #ヴィンテージ #今日のコーデ // culottes from @princesshighwayclothing 🍂
As for the direction I’m trying to take my current aesthetic, I’m generally hoping to push it in a more fun direction by making more outfits that feel like a storybook character outfit a la the costuming in Pushing Daisies show (RIP), Fantastic Beasts movies, or any plethora of historically inspired / fantastical media. I noticed I have a lot more fun when I’m wearing more extra outfits, and I think this is a nice framework to work in that also isn’t overly specific. That being said, I also plan to keep things toned down enough to not look like I’m literally on my way to a costume party when I’m going to work.
Another concept I’ve found inspiring was a list for “what makes a place magical”, written by James Talbot for the development of the Casa Neverlandia art house. I think a lot of it is also applicable to a wardrobe (many thanks to u/weph for sharing the list on reddit) or any area of visual design, really. Lots of good food for thought around how to enrich an outfit in different ways.
I live near San Francisco, so for 90% of the year, the weather is between 45F and 85F. However, I walk and take public transit everywhere, so I need comfortable shoes and generally don’t go for anything too fussy. I work in a “wear what you want within reason” office where it’s common to see people in sweatpants and house slippers next to people in business casual. I don’t have any kids or pets.
These are my core “outfit items” – all in all probably about half my wardrobe. I’m not a hardcore minimalist, but I do share a ~400 sq ft apartment with my boyfriend, so I limit what clothes I have out so that I don’t end up with piles of clothes tumbling off every surface.